Damages for Deed Done by Daughter’s Dog

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“My daughter has two dogs, a lab and a pit bull. She puts them in my yard when she goes to work, I have a fenced-in area for them. The pit bull began jumping over the fence into the neighbor’s yard. The neighbor told us she put her back into our yard and we should maybe put her on a chain. The next morning my daughter chained the dog within the fenced area. Unfortunately she was able to make it over the fence again. The neighbor called animal control who came and picked her up. She claims that the pit bull damaged several plants and has demanded compensation by either my daughter or me. I would like to know if my daughter does not pay, am I responsible because they were in my yard. Actually I would just pay her to make her go away, but she is asking an outrageous amount and we looked at the area and there appears not to be any damage or missing plants. She has invoiced us, and demanded a cashier’s check on a certain day. I wrote back and demanded pictures of the said damage and copies of the invoices for all of the plants. She then responded without sending any pictures or invoices that she wanted to have the situation mediated instead of court. She is waiting for my response at this time. Before I respond, I really would like to know if I can be held responsible.”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

While it’s impossible to say for certain without knowing where you are, and being familiar with the laws of your state, generally speaking, unfortunately, because the damage to her property emanated from your property, it’s very likely that yes, you would be held responsible. In fact, in many situations, where the amount of damages is high enough, the way that this would be resolved would be by your neighbor suing you under your homeowner’s policy.

However, it does sound like unless your neighbor’s home has posed as a centerfold for Better Homes & Gardens, the amount should not be that high.

If I were you, I would ask her to please either get estimates from 2-3 gardening services for replacement of the damaged plants, or to let you get 2 or 3 estimates, and then you should pay the average cost of those estimates. Make sure that she understands that you agree to pay for the damage, you just are trying to ensure that you both arrive at a fair price. Make clear, in a non-hostile way, that you are not going to pay for any improvement to her yard, but that you will of course pay to return the yard to the condition in which the dog found it.

Recommended reading:
Dog Law (4th National Edition)

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Author: Anne P. Mitchell, Esq.

Anne P. Mitchell, Esq. is a noted family law expert, Internet law expert, and Professor of Law at Lincoln Law School of San Jose. She is the author of "Surviving Divorce: the Single Father's Guide" and "The Email Deliverability Handbook"

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